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Cooke: Analysis of Infinite Dial 2015

| March 5, 2015

Most Now Stream, Podcasting Mainstreams, YouTube is Music Radio, Facebook tops Social


By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Just-released results of the Edison Research/Triton Digital “Infinite Dial 2015”  — the 23rd research survey in the series – are must-reading for anyone, in any format, in radio.  And “anyone” includes sales.

See the entire slide deck at

Among highlights from this January/February survey of 2002 Persons 12+ presented by Edison’s Tom Webster and Triton’s John Rosso:

“Among the Internet, newspapers, radio and television, which one is most essential to your life?”


Internet Newspaper Radio Television
2015 54% 4% 9% 30%
2010 42% 5% 14% 37%

And responses to “Medium used first in event of a major news story” and “Medium used first to learn about new music” show Internet topping radio.

“One of the most significant findings of this year’s study:” Online radio use.

  • Most USA adults listen to online radio every month (53%, some 143 million; 47% last year).
  • Unsurprisingly, use skews young (77% P12-24); but it’s not just-for-kids (61% P25-54).
  • Weekly online radio listening: 44% P12+, some 119 million; 69% 12-24, 50% 25-54

Devices used by weekly online listeners to hear AM/FM stations’ streams or Internet-only audio:

Smartphone Desktop/Laptop Tablet Connected TV Internet-connected audio system (e.g., Sonos)
2015 73% 61% 32% 18% 3%
2014 66% 64% 34% 12% 2%

In-car: The Last Bastion.

Too often, radio broadcasters discuss “Connected Car” as if it’s the future.  This study demonstrates that it’s the now. 

“Have you ever listened to Internet Radio in a car by listening to the stream from a cell phone that you have connected to a car audio system?”

  • 2015: 35%
  • 2014: 26%
  • 2013: 21%
  • 2012: 17%
  • 2011: 11%
  • 2010: 6%

Re-read that question.  This steady growth pattern measures listeners-who-connect phones to the in-car audio system.  Add to that the many drivers who simply listen via earbuds, and AM/FM radio has serious in-car competition.  In-car Internet audio use has grown to a fourth of AM/FM use, and has surpassed satellite radio.  Audio Sources Used in Primary Car:

AM/FM Radio CD player MP3 player/owned music Online Radio Satellite Radio
2015 81% 55% 38% 21% 17%
2014 86% 61% 31% 14% 17%
2013 84% 63% 29% 12% 15%

Podcasting: “Clearly not a niche medium,” and opportune for advertisers.

  • One third (33%) of USA P12+ (89 million) have ever listened to a podcast (30% last year).
  • 17% (46 million) listen each month (15% last year, 12% year-before)
  • 10% (27 million) listen each week (8% last year).
  • They’re listening on-the-go: 55% on a smartphone/tablet/audio player.
  • Qualitative data on the podcast audience is impressive.
  • “If you listen to podcasts, you listen to a lot of podcasts,” an average of 6/week.
  • Accordingly, the podcast listener is “hard to reach via other media.”

Observation: With ownership pressuring stations for digital revenue growth, episodic on-demand audio is increasingly opportune.  This is a focus area at stations I work with, and slides from the Infinite Dial 2015 PowerPoint would have value pitching podcasts to local retailers.

WHAT IS “Music Radio” now?

Increasingly it’s YouTube.  Data demonstrate how smartphones have become the new transistor radio:

“How often would you say you listen to the music on YouTube without actually watching the video?”

  • “All of the time:” 13%
  • “Most of the time:” 21%
  • “Some of the time:” 39%
  • “Almost never:” 27% 

As audio brands go, Pandora is T-Rex, with 75% awareness; compared to 62% for iTunes Radio, and 59% for iHeart Radio that’s promoted so relentlessly on its owned AM/FM stations.

Monthly use:

Pandora iHeart Radio iTunes Radio Spotify
2015 34% 11% 11% 10%
2014 31% 9% 8% 6%

Drilling-down to Weekly use, Pandora’s dominance is clear:

Pandora iHeart Radio iTunes Radio Spotify
2015 27% 7% 7% 7%
2014 22% 4% 5% 5%

In the presentation, you’ll see demographic detail, and survey data on music discovery that will be instructive to music stations.

There’s also useful information on Social Media.  Headline:  Facebook remains – far-and-away — #1, in awareness, usage (yes, even among 12-24s), and “several times per day” usage.


Holland Cooke is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke and meet HC at Talkers New York 2015 on June 12.

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Category: Analysis